Besides a little excitement surrounding Sunday’s final pass on the three-quarter-mile Lake of the Ozarks Shootout course by the crowd-favorite American Ethanol 51-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran, the competition for the overall fastest boat in the 31st annual event in Sunrise Beach, Mo., was somewhat lackluster as driver Tony Battiato and throttleman John Cosker locked down a fifth straight Top Gun title for the boat’s owner Don Onken, who was inducted into the event’s Bob Morgan Memorial Hall of Fame earlier in the week.
Despite losing a couple of hatches at the end of its last run on Sunday, Don Onken’s American Ethanol Mystic cat earned its fifth straight overall Top Gun title at the 31st annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri. All photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
The Onken Racing team, which is sponsored by American Ethanol, Big Thunder Marine and Vortech Superchargers, followed up a disappointing day on Saturday with a 201-mph run early on Sunday to lock down the fastest speed of the popular event. The next closest competitor was the class-winning Performance Boat Center-sponsored 38-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran owned by Michigan’s Ron Szolack, who drove the boat alongside throttleman Myrick Coil.
American Ethanol’s attempt to exceed its 201-mph top speed posted in the morning ended in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon as the boat, which is powered by four engines, lost a propeller blade and subsequently a couple of hatches broke free from the deck of the boat and ended up on the course.
“I think my eyeballs are still shaking,” Cosker said about an hour after the boat shook him silly but remained planted as it came across the finish line at 196 mph. “That was intense—I thought maybe we blew up a motor. It turns out it wasn’t that bad, but we broke prop, which bent the prop shaft and shook the boat so hard that the fender pins on the deck of the boat shot out.”
Onken didn’t seem disappointed that the team fell short of the 204-mph top speed the boat ran in 2017 and 2018, but he did hint that the team is already working on a new engine program for next year’s event.
“I was hoping for something closer to 210 mph this year, but we’ll take it considering everything we encountered this weekend and leading up to it,” Onken said. “We found the propeller blade that broke. It was stuck in the boat—we plan on giving it to the Shootout for next year’s auction.”
At 143 mph in a 42-foot Fountain his company recently repowered, South Carolina’s Ben Robertson was the fastest V-bottom competitor in the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout hosted by Captain Ron’s Bar and Grill in Sunrise Beach, Mo.
Although they were looking to go faster, Szolack and Coil seemed pleased with their top-speed improvement from Saturday to Sunday. As was Ben Robertson of BAR Marine Group in South Carolina after he reached 143 mph in a Fountain Powerboats 42 Lightning powered by a pair of 1,550-hp Mercury Racing engines to follow up Saturday’s disappointing 123-mph pass and lay claim as the event’s fastest V-bottom overall.
“She ran great out there,” Robertson said. “Next time we’ll take out the galley, the table and everything else in the pure pleasure boat that we recently repowered and redid the dashes in. I think we could probably get rid of 800 pounds or more, which could make a big difference.”
While Tyler Crockett of Crockett Marine Engines in Michigan was unable to back up his impressive 128-mph top speed in his 26-foot Joker that he ran Saturday, he did one pass on Sunday at 126 mph and called it quits for the day as that speed is still incredibly fast for a 26-foot V-bottom.
“I’m really proud of our guys—they made the trip all the way out here to experience everything the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout has to offer,” said DCB’s Tony Chiaramonte. “They did the fun runs, Super Cat Fest and then went to the Shootout and won their classes. I love our customers.”
Chiaramonte was referring to the four different class-winning DCB owners, which included Dave Megugorac, who ran 156 mph in his DCB Performance Boats M44 Widebody catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 1550/1350 engines, Mauricio Vivanco, who went 123 mph in his M31 Widebody with twin Mercury Racing 700SCi engines, Brad Benson, who ran 113 mph in his M33R catamaran with twin Mercury Racing 400R engines, and Lawrence Coelho, who drove his 28-foot DCB V-bottom 98 mph on the three-quarter-mile course.
Check out the slideshow above for more of Speedonthewater.com chief photographer Pete Boden’s images from the Shootout.
Although he didn’t run on Saturday, well-known offshore racer Bob Bull brought his 52-foot MTI to the Shootout on Sunday and laid down some fast speeds—including two 162-mph passes with MTI founder Randy Scism, the original Shootout Top Gun champion, on the throttles—that were good enough for the third fastest speed overall.
Another fairly fast V-bottom performance was posted by local performance boater Chad Prater, who went 111 mph in his Baja Marine 35 Outlaw with twin 900-plus-hp Whipple-supercharged engines to win his class. Although the speed was six mph off his 2017 top speed, Prater was just happy to be out there as he blew a drive during the Baja, Fountain, Donzi Fun Run on Lake of the Ozarks last month and worked closely with IMCO Marine and Teague Custom Marine to get a pair of IMCO SCX drives in time for this week’s event.
“I called Bob (Teague) and he took care of everything—the process was flawless,” Prater said. “We had to spend some money to get here, but it was worth it. I would have liked to run faster—I believe 125 mph is possible in the boat—but the reality was that we didn’t have any time to dial it in. The motors were still sitting on the floor at Big Thunder Marine on Monday so we were definitely behind the curve.”
Prater, who managed to get the boat running in time to participate in the poker run on Friday as well, shared an interesting story that happened thanks to Shootout inspector Ed Grimm.
“Ed reached out to me because a participant from the East Coast, Del Flores, was looking for a spare drive,” Prater explained. “After destroying one of my drives in the fun run, I reached out to Del and told him I had one for him but that I couldn’t guarantee if it would last five minutes or two years. He bought it and was out here running his boat hard all weekend.”
When all was said and done, Flores, the founder of the Spartan Powerboat Club in New Jersey, ended up making seven passes—three on Saturday and four on Sunday—in his 39-foot Velocity Powerboats V-bottom to win his class with a 96-mph top speed.
Daniel Suchocki ran a brand new PowerQuest 38-foot V-bottom to 79 mph on the Shootout’s three-quarter-mile course.
The crew from the resurrected PowerQuest Boats also had an impressive showing as company owner Neil Wallace laid down a 73-mph top speed in a 28-foot V-bottom and Daniel Suchocki of Voyage Marine and Storage, PowerQuest’s local dealer, ran a brand new 38-foot V-bottom with twin Mercury Racing 520 engines up to 79 mph.
Out all of Sunday’s highlights, the most important one just might have been the fact that the Shootout even took place. For nine hours on Saturday, organizers of the event were wondering if they were going to have to potentially delay Sunday’s race or even cancel it altogether after a 23-year-old man in the massive spectator fleet went missing and dive teams were sent in to find him. Fortunately, with the help of sonar, the divers found the deceased Illinois resident just before 11 p.m., so the show was able to continue on Sunday.
Editor’s note: For complete results from the Shootout, visit Shootoutresults.com.
Day One Highlights From The 2019 Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout
Complete Coverage of the 2019 Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout
Lake Of The Ozarks Shootout Hosts Another Impressive Shootout On The Strip
Szolack Nabs Performance Boat Center Raceboat For Shootout